A steamy Saturday afternoon at Road America couldn’t stop JDC-Miller Motorsport’s spec LMP2 chassis piloted by Pro-Am driver Robert Alon from setting a new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lap record against the best DPi aces in the field.
Alon’s No. 85 ORECA 07-Gibson (1m51.933s) was well clear of the previous qualifying record (1m53.058s) set last year by Ricky Taylor in a Cadillac DPi-V.R. It was Taylor, at his new Acura Team Penske home, chasing the Californian in the No. 7 ARX-05 (+0.207s) with no success. CORE autosport’s Colin Braun, chasing his third consecutive Prototype pole, settled for third in the grid (+0.407s) in his No. 54 ORECA 07-Gibson.
“Honestly, I don’t think starting position has been a big part [of who ends up winning] this year,” Alon told IMSA Radio. “Whether we start first, second, or third isn’t a big deal.”
Alon’s teammate Simon Trummer was fastest in the final practice session ahead of qualifying, and with temperatures above 90F to contend with, the JDC-Miller team planned to set their fastest lap early while the tires were at their peak.
“It was my first flying lap,” he continued. “It felt right, tire grip was there. We prepared for that. Just to give credit to Simon, and me, and our engineer, we’ve been really quick this year.”
Ford’s recent test at Road America certainly helped the Blue Oval to secure a 1-2 in GT Le Mans. The brand’s polemeister, Dirk Muller, did the honors in the No. 66 Ford GT (2m02.479s) and had teammate Ryan Briscoe close behind in the No. 67 entry (+0.171s). Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia completed the all-American top three with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R (+0.267s).
“It’s a whole team effort,” Muller said. “Ford Chip Ganassi Racing do such a fantastic job. I really love this place. A lot of these corners are like the Nordschleife. Good start, but we need to keep digging down. It’s always good to start first, but the race is long.”
A red flag halfway through GT Daytona’s 15-minute qualifying session created some drama after Francesco Piovanetti crashed at Canada Corner in the No. 51 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3.
At the time of the stoppage, Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long owned the fastest lap in the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R (2m06.593s), and with limited time for other to get up to speed and knock the veteran factory driver off the top spot after the green flag waved, the Californian held onto his second consecutive pole.
“Special celebration today to back up Lime Rock,” Long said while hoping Lime Rock’s fall from pole to last does not carry over to Road America. “We left pretty dejected, so I’ve been feeling for the guys. We’ve been putting our [feet] down and looking ahead. We were able to string together the best lap of the before the red flag, so that was timely.”
3GT Racing’s Dominik Baumann (+0.257s) will start second in his No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, and the championship-leading Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Madison Snow will roll off third (+0.633s).
Engine problems for the No. 15 Lexus RC F prevented the 3GT entry from taking part in qualifying, and will start last.